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‘50,000 war refugees bribed their way out’

[Express Buzz, Monday, 3 August 2009 08:35 No Comment]

About 50,000 Tamil war refugees from the Wanni region have escaped from detention camps in Lanka by giving huge bribes to pro-government former militant groups which now function as political parties, reported Lakbimanews.

The refugees had paid from SL Rs 1 lakh to SL Rs 10 lakh to get out of the camps, the paper said on Sunday. The Tamil National Alliance MP, Sivanathan Kishore, had confirmed that this had been going on, it claimed.

The Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, told Sunday Island, “many persons had escaped in the past two months”. But he did not mention a figure.

“We are still not sure about the exact number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who escaped from the camps. Arrangements are being made to check the figures,” said the DIG of Northern Province, Nimal Lewke.

The Inspector General has formally asked the Vavuniya district police to investigate, especially because many of the escapees could be LTTE cadre trying to infiltrate populated areas to commit acts of terrorism and revive the armed struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam.

Sunday Island quoted Gotabaya as saying that there was a determined bid by some forces to get hard-core LTTE cadre released from the refugee camps. He admitted that some of those who had escaped had done so by bribing the army and police personnel deployed in the area.

Meanwhile, police suspect that among the refugees are suspected LTTE assassins relating to the assassination of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and cabinet minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle; and navy personnel in Digampathana.

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